Ahmed Aboutaleb is an Arab-born Muslim who now happens to be the mayor of Rotterdam, the 2nd largest city in the Netherlands. Here’s what he had to say to would-be terrorists in his own adopted country:
‘It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom,’ Mayor Aboutaleb told Dutch current affairs program Nieuwsuur (Newshour).
‘But if you don’t like freedom, for heaven’s sake pack your bags and leave.
‘If you do not like it here because some humorists you don’t like are making a newspaper, may I then say you can f*** off.
‘This is stupid, this so incomprehensible. Vanish from the Netherlands if you cannot find your place here. All those well-meaning Muslims here will now be stared at’.
Sound bites don’t get much stronger than “f*&k off.” These are powerful words and a powerful message made even stronger because of Aboutaleb’s unique background. He can’t be accused of being anti-Muslim or spreading anti-Muslim bigotry, because he is a Muslim. He can’t be accused of spreading anti-immigrant xenophobia because he is himself an immigrant and does not to appear to be of the self-loathing variety.
What this means is that all participants in the debate must focus on Mayor Aboutaleb’s actual message, as opposed to meta-messages, subtexts, etc. If a white, Christian European politician of European descent had made the same comments as Aboutaleb, the comments would have been dismissed as racist or even fascist.
This is why political movements must always take into consideration not only what their message is, but who their messengers are.
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